Philly targeted in weeklong ICE operation, drawing criticism from mayor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal officials were in Philadelphia announcing the end of a weeklong immigration enforcement operation. But the effort drew criticism from the mayor's office.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the "Project Rise" initiative resulted in the apprehension of more than 170 undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities, including Philadelphia.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said he wants local police to inform ICE when releasing someone of undocumented status.

"This campaign would be entirely unnecessary if local leaders would do their jobs and protect their communities by partnering with federal law enforcement,” Wolf said.

But the city is not required to partner with them.

Tony Fam with ICE softened his tone when reminded that Philadelphia won a lawsuit against the former attorney general, indicating ICE has no authority to impose conditions on the city.

"When we talk about compliance with court orders, I think the ruling of the order says that the locality does not have to do something. What we're talking about is about mutual, agreed cooperation,” Fam said.

"These practices sow fear in Philadelphia's great immigrant community,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. "Philadelphia is a welcoming city and we will protect our undocumented communities and keep fighting for their rights."

Wolf said while the city doesn’t have a legal obligation to “make that communication” to ICE, he said it’s “about wanting to do the right thing, wanting to have that cooperation."

“The city always complies with federal law, but will not go beyond federal law,” said a city spokesperson.